Remember last January? Before all this pandemic insurrection nonsense? Anyway, that’s when I filed a suit against both the Highland Park Business Improvement District and the Lincoln Heights BID1 over their failures to comply with the California Public Records Act. I haven’t written much on it because at first it looked like it was going to settle quickly. The BIDs agreed to produce the records and everything was fine.
Then they fired their lawyers and hired Carol “World’s angriest CPRA lawyer” Humiston’s firm, Bradley & Gmelich, to fight the petition instead. Humiston, of course, has it in for me and is even willing to break the law and the rules of the California State Bar to further her obsessive campaign. She apparently actually believes that the only reason I request records from BIDs is to fuck with them and run up their lawyer bills, and she’s determined to prove this in court.
Now, I’ve worked out a very simple plan. First, we collect every key on this ship and tag it with the name of the owner. Second, we strip all hands to make sure we got all the keys. Third, we test each key on the icebox padlock, and the one that fits will give us the name of the owner.
Despite his blah blah blah about a work plan and handling requests sequentially, what they’ve really done is to stop producing records at all. But they’re somewhat hindered in this project by the fact that Gmail is free and the law doesn’t allow them to inquire too deeply into the identities of requesters.
Recent events have made it clear that we need an effective way to search the content of Los Angeles film permits for names and phone numbers of location managers, locations, and other essential information. Permits are coordinated by an entity called FilmLA. FilmLA is putatively private but is made subject to the California Public Records Act at least by its contract with the City of Los Angeles.2 But FilmLA bossman Paul Audley refuses to comply with the law.
And while I’m not giving up on legal remedies, they take forever and it turns out that it’s not necessary to wait in order to obtain some of the records. In particular, the permits themselves. Audley admits that the permits are subject to the CPRA and they are all in some technical sense available on FilmLA’s website. However, the search is abysmal.
It’s only possible to search on four predetermined fields, which are Permit Number, Company Name, Production Title, and Date of First Activity. If you want other information, like all permits at a given location, you’re out of luck. Not only that, but it’s impossible to search even those fields without being logged in. This excludes search engines from indexing the permits (unless arrangements are made to allow them in, which FilmLA has not done).3
On December 1, then, I started using the California Public Records Act to investigate. It turns out that FilmLA is a private corporation but their contract makes them subject to the CPRA, so I fired off a request and a couple of days later, after an inordinate amount of pushback from an inordinate number of City offices,2 I received the Union Station permit and wrote a post about it.
But late last year they settled a major CPRA case with the ACLU and part of the agreement required the Department to adopt a policy stating explicitly that LAPD employees, both sworn and nonsworn, were subject to discipline for willful violations of the law. And since they will no longer produce records in response to my requests I’ve been using the time I would have spent reviewing and writing about their records to file complaints against them instead.
Which, as was very recently revealed, was certainly not the whole truth. Furthermore, I recently obtained this email chain involving LAPD CPRA analyst Masoomeh Cheraghi. She responded in May 2020 to a February 2020 email announcing various LAPD facial recognition policies, announced that she was working on my request,1 and was told by LAPD staff that there was in fact a Detective Bureau Notice on the subject.
NOTE: This post is about Police Commission Calendars from 2013 through 2020, and they’re here on Archive.Org.
The Los Angeles Police Commission theoretically oversees the Los Angeles Police Department via powers enumerated in the City Charter at §570 et seq. Although these powers are pretty broad, e.g. they include the power to recommend that the Chief be fired subject to approval of Council, the Commission doesn’t do much with them at all, as you surely know if you’ve ever attended one of their meetings. They act more like collegial collaborators with the police than any respectable oversight body ought to do.
You’ll have seen that the only people in the room who’ve spent any time at all thinking about police oversight are members of the public there to give comment. The Commission itself is overly friendly with the police and exceedingly hostile towards any members of the public who are not also overly friendly with the police. And it turns out that this impression of unseemly collaboration between overseers and overseen is also accurate outside public view.
TL;DR I filed a complaint with the Ethics Commission against CD15 staffer Amy Gebert and Deputy City Attorney Bethelwel Wilson and you can get a copy of it right here.
In June 2019 I asked Joe Buscaino’s PR flack Amy Gebert for some emails. After wasting three months on bad-faith arguments she agreed to produce 10,000 pages by April 2021. In March 2020 she produced the first two hundred1 pages, printed out on paper, in an untidy stack, and told me I’d have to pay $0.10 per page to obtain copies.